One thing can be said about the Patriots performance on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals: the offense was anything but ordinary.
From the offensive line to the receivers, something was amiss from the start. On the Patriots first possession of the game, a Tom Brady pass attempt was tipped by Arizona defensive lineman Darnell Dockett and intercepted by cornerback Patrick Peterson. That, as it would turn out, set the tone for the offense for the rest of the afternoon.
Jerod Mayo and the defense were the only bright spots for the Patriots in their loss to the Cardinals. (FILE:USPresswire)
The biggest blow of the day came when Aaron Hernandez got his ankle caught up in a tackle and needed assistance from two trainers to get off the field. Luckily it isn’t broken, it is just a high ankle sprain and after the game he was seen leaving in a high walking boot and on crutches. Now it may “just” be a high ankle sprain, but this is still a big blow for the Patriots offense. Hernandez is one of the most versatile players on this roster and was on the field for a majority of the snaps. He will most likely be out for at least the next few weeks, so the team is going to have to adjust to life without him.
Another adjustment that needs to be made is on the offensive line. They were tested by a tough Cardinal defense with some big bodies, and they definitely struggled. Brady was sacked four times and was under constant pressure. He completed just over 60% of his passes going 28 for 46 and threw for 316 yards with an interception and just one touchdown. It was an uncharacteristic day for number 12. Now it didn’t seem like it, but the majority of the Patriots yards came in the air. They had 297 passing yards and just 90 yards rushing. Things were less balanced today with the play calling and that’s another thing to look at. Josh McDaniels clearly understood that running on Arizona was going to be difficult, but somehow Stevan Ridley still managed to be effective. Unfortunately with the receivers, there were some dropped passes and the Patriots were unable to pick up the big gains needed to spark the offense. The only positive from this performance was Wes Welker. He passed Troy Brown to become the Patriots all-time receptions leader with 558. Although he didn’t start, he led the receiving core with 5 catches for 95 yards.
The defense today was once again outstanding. They struggled to start but got into a groove midway through the first quarter. Chandler Jones showed his incredible speed and strength and had himself another impressive game. He really dominated the line and got in the head of Kevin Kolb. All of the linebackers did their job and put pressure on the quarterback and dampened the run. Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo were everywhere and Rob Ninkovich had four tackles and a sack. A lot of different members were contributing and that includes the secondary. They all but eliminated Larry Fitzgerald, holding him to one reception for four yards. They did the job they set out to do and it is encouraging to know they can hold down a marquee player like him.
Offensively the Patriots have to be better if they want to win. The defense has been doing its job so now it’s time for Brady and these receivers to step it up. Stephen Gostkowski is not the reason why the Patriots lost so putting it all on him is wrong. If you think about it, he scored 12 of the Patriots 18 points today. Brady and the offense scored six. It’s a team effort and now it’s time for the pieces to come together and for us to see a complete win. Next Sunday it’s the Baltimore Ravens in primetime and given the history these teams have, you can believe they’ll both be fired up.